Revolutionary Thingyan

April 24th, 2022  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  7 minute read
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“The world can now see how our people are willing to sacrifice in the hope that democracy will one day flourish again.”

Hein Thiha, CDM teacher

This year’s Thingyan (Water Festival/ Myanmar Buddhist New Year) highlights the unified resistance of the people of Myanmar against the military junta, and the mass consensus that the coup d’état attempt of 1 February, 2021, has utterly failed. The military’s attempts to create a veil of normalcy fell flat, as the people of Myanmar orchestrated a boycott of the festivities and refused to partake in junta-sponsored Thingyan activities – silently resisting at home or continuing protests or protecting their homes and villages through armed resistance. Meanwhile, the military junta’s brutal scorched earth campaign and airstrikes against civilians continued without abatement through Thingyan, particularly in Karen State.

The usual celebrations around Thingyan, including traveling and reuniting with family members, visiting monasteries and the streets full of people dousing each other with water to cleanse one another to bring in the Buddhist New Year, were abandoned by the people in protest. Despite desperate attempts by the junta to set up events, pavilions, concerts and water stations, these all fell flat, with only a scattering of military personnel and military supporters attending. Dozens of photos circulated online of eerily deserted streets and empty concert venues through all major cities, including Yangon, Mandalay and Naypyidaw. One Strike Committee representative described their actions to Myanmar Now, saying “We rallied the people to not take part in the Thingyan celebrations in order to not fall for the military’s propaganda efforts. It is now evident that our efforts were not in vain.” These silent protests were followed by “Revolutionary Thingyan” protests with many risking their lives to resist the junta on the streets of Myanmar. These actions were intended to humiliate junta leadership, and dash any hopes the military held for the appearance of normalcy.

Traditionally around Thingyan, amnesty will be given to prisoners, but this year saw fewer numbers than last year, only 1,600, and with no political prisoners among those granted amnesty by the illegitimate military junta. Additionally, 10,259 people remain in detention since 1 February, 2021, where they are subject to routine torture, killing, beatings, interrogations, deprived of medical treatments and family visits in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions. Sketches smuggled out of Insein Prison fully illustrate how dire the situation has become, with no beds, proper toilets or adequate sanitation.

In addition to the boycott, many did not feel as though there was much to celebrate this Thingyan, given the junta’s ongoing murders, torture, arbitrary arrests, burning of villages and airstrikes, particularly in Sagaing and Magwe Regions and Karen, Chin and Karenni States. In the last 14 months, the people have seen grave crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by the terrorist junta in these communities and other regions of Myanmar. Shamelessly, junta leader Min Aung Hlaing declared ‘a year of peace’ while junta forces continued to attack along the Asia Highway. Also, Lay Kay Kaw in Karen State, once dubbed the ‘City of Peace’ during the failed peace process, funded by Nippon Foundation, a model peace town of what was meant to be a site for returning refugees from Thai border refugee camps is now subject to months of attacks and airstrikes by the junta. Yet, in spite of horrific attacks on the ground, the resistance holds strong. The National Unity Government (NUG) asserting the people of Myanmar control 45% of Myanmar’s territory, through local governance, ethnic controlled areas or territory under the control of PDFs. Meanwhile, according to the NUG, over 10,000 soldiers have defected from all three branches of the Myanmar military – the army, navy and air force.

This year’s Thingyan message is a clear and bold demonstration of the people’s resolve against the junta and persistent sacrifices for democracy, especially the young generations. A former teacher and Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) member, Hein Thiha, told Radio Free Asia that “The world can now see how our people are willing to sacrifice in the hope that democracy will one day flourish again.” Thus, it is of utmost importance that the international community fully recognize the sacrifices of Myanmar’s people for democracy – as they have shown with the people of Ukraine – and support the people of Myanmar, NUG and CDM in their efforts to banish the junta and restore democracy. Governments, embassies, international donors and aid agencies must support the will of the people of Myanmar and thus by no means lend legitimacy to the junta. From the junta’s perspective, engaging with them for collaboration and cooperation sends a signal of legitimacy, while it is also a tacit endorsement of their atrocity crimes. Instead, these international actors must all support the Myanmar people’s call for and take steps to impose targeted sanctions on military leadership and its economic interests, impose a global arms embargo, and end the supply of jet fuel to the junta. These must be within the international communities’ actions this New Year, in the spirit of the Revolutionary Thingyan, paving the way for more international actions in full recognition of the Myanmar people’s will and sacrifices.


[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term ‘Myanmar’ in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of ‘Myanmar’ rather than ‘Burma’ without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten. Thus, under certain circumstances, ‘Burma’ is used.

Resources from the past week


Statements and Press Releases

Senators Young and McConnell: Stop Protecting the Burmese Military

By Burma Campaign UK

Archbishop of Mandalay among those detained by military in cathedral raid

By Christian Solidarity Worldwide

Statement from the Bush Institute on the Importance of Developing Young Leaders in Burma

By George W. Bush Presidential Center

BPLA ၏ တစ်နှစ်ပြည့်တပ်တော်နေ့အခမ်းအနားသို့ ကရင်နီအမျိုးသားကာကွယ်ရေးတပ်(KNDF)မှပေးပို့သော သဝဏ်လွှာ

By Karenni Nationalities Defense Force

ESG-labeled funds found to hold shares in corporations linked to the Myanmar military Japanese companies exposed in report by rights groups

By Mekong Watch

အမျိုးသားညီညွှတ်ရေးအစိုးရ၊ ကာကွယ်ရေးဝန်ကြီးဌာန၊ ပြည်ထောင်စုဝန်ကြီးက ဗမာပြည်သူ့လွတ်မြောက်ရေးတပ်တော် (၁)နှစ်ပြည့်သို့ ပေးပို့သော သဝဏ်လွှာ

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Defence)

National Unity Government President Office Announcement No. (8/2022) – Appointing the Spokesperson for the office of the President

By National Unity Government

Statement marking the first anniversary of National Unity Government

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Human Rights)

Nationwide New Year Strikes Show the Strength of Democratic Resistance in Myanmar

By Special Advisory Council for Myanmar

Foreign Ambassadors Holding Shameful Meetings With Min Aung Hlaing Are on the Wrong Side of History

By Special Advisory Council for Myanmar

Myanmar: Water shortage amidst economic, political and health crisis

By Solidarités International

BPLA ၏ တစ်နှစ်ပြည့်တပ်တော်နေ့အခမ်းအနားသို့ ညီနောင်မဟာမိတ်(၃)ဖွဲ့မှပေးပို့သော ဂုဏ်ပြုသဝဏ်လွှာ

By Three Brotherhood Alliance

BPLA ၏ တစ်နှစ်ပြည့်တပ်တော်နေ့အခမ်းအနားသို့ Women’s League of Burma မှပေးပို့သော သဝဏ်လွှာ

By Women’s League of Burma



Annual Report on the Activities of Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management of the National Unity Government

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management)

အမျိုးသားညီညွတ်ရေးအစိုးရ တစ်နှစ်ပြည့်အတွက် လူသားချင်းစာနာထောက်ထားရေးနှင့် ဘေးအန္တရာယ်ဆိုင်ရာ စီမံခန့်ခွဲရေး ဝန်ကြီးဌာန၏ အစီရင်ခံစာ

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management)

2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Burma

By United States Department of State

Situation Update of Burma/Myanmar (February-March)

By Women’s League of Burma

Progressive Voice is a participatory, rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 transitioning to a rights-based policy research and advocacy organization called Progressive Voice. For further information, please see our press release “Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice.”